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Tas’ edi schools field in public sector management at PM’s awards

Tasmania’s Education Information (edi) initiative has taken out the top gong at the 2015 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management at a ceremony in Canberra on Thursday.

Run by the Institute of Public Administration Australia the night honoured 29 nominees from agencies across Australia, including local, state and federal.

It’s a night just for the public sector itself. There are no awards for good decisions by politicians, only the innovative, collaborative and well-executed efforts of public servants from any jurisdiction in Australia. Dumb luck doesn’t cut it either, says Stephen Bartos who was one of the judges again this year, and it has to have a real positive impact for the public.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sent a message of his own that taking risk to achieve those positive impacts will be rewarded.

Defensive executive government marred the night only briefly when Human Services Minister Stuart Robert, representing the airborne and overseas Prime Minister, took on claims of a gutted bureaucracy in Laura Tingle’s Quarterly Essay. The cabinet has universally taken exception to the new essay, which quotes some of Treasury’s top officials in recent federal governments lamenting the loss of corporate memory in departments.

Stuart Robert
Stuart Robert

Robert told the awards dinner that the claim of diminished policy capacity — which Tingle attributes to politicians’ neglect — is “crap”. Being an audience largely made up of senior bureaucrats, many of them colleagues of the cited Treasury mandarins, could probably have made up their own minds.

Robert said it wanted to see more collaboration in government — “No department will remain an island” — and that innovation is not wasted on the young, public servants of any age can be innovative and come up with ways to transform the way services and programs are delivered.

Tasmania’s Department of Education was one such example. Its edi initiative is an Australia-first web portal that provides classroom teachers and school leaders with real time data about every single student, class and school through a single entry point. The department’s representatives said edi is transforming the way schools do business, and empowering school communities by bringing openness and transparency.

Full list of winners

Gold award

Tasmanian government, Department of Education — Education Information (edi)

Silver and Innovation award

Australian government, IP Australia — Regional Patent Examiner Training (REPT)

Silver and Innovation award

Australian government, Department of Communications and the Arts — Restack Program and Retune Campaign

Silver and Collaboration award

Australian and Queensland governments, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Parks and  Wildlife Service — Joint Field Management Program for the Great Barrier Reef.

Collaboration award

Queensland government, Department of State Development —  Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 and Port  Master Planning for Queensland’s Priority Ports

Commendation awards

Australian government, Department of Human Services — Digital Transformation

South Australian government, Department of Primary Industries and Regions — South Australian Murray Sustainability, Irrigation Industry Improvement Program

Queensland government, Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games — Getting to Know our Customers project

Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.